Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Live Life One Mile at a Time!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Look Mum, No hands!

As Close to Mine as I Can Recall!
Photo © jasonGT 
I remember going to Canadian Tire with my mother when I was around J's age. I remember vividly how the man who worked there told my mother that I should really get the 24 inch Diamond Back BMX. However, I was too afraid of the height. I could barely reach the floor with both feet. All I knew for certain was that I absolutely loved the 20 inch BMX I was sitting on instead. It was chrome with Mr. T inspired gold accents a la 80's. It was my first 'big boy' bike and it just felt right. "Are you sure?" my mother asked. I gripped the handlebars tightly, slightly fearful of being refused this guilty pleasure. Before long I found myself riding solo in and out of the streets of Verdun and there began my love affair with two wheels. If I have to explain you wouldn't understand. By the end of the summer of '85 I had outgrown my training wheels and had undertaken adventures that the Goonies would have been proud of!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Who's There? A Trip to Remember by Wolf Raaen

Canyon Ride 2013
12 Days of Perfect Sunshine, Spectacular Scenery &  
Good Folks as Company!

Zion National Park
All Photos & Words © Wolf Raaen

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Project A-Team - Stage 1

A Biker is Born?
I am not going to lie to you. The days leading up to collecting the little Yamaha TW200 were fraught with self-doubt and uncertainty. I found myself contemplating cancelling the deal altogether at one point. The matter wasn't helped by the less than stellar service from Motos Illimitées. If it wasn't for the sales guy whom I purchased the bike from, Danny, I might have just been tempted to do just that. In the end, however, I found myself getting ready the other morning with tribulations and uncertainty over the purchase. A special thanks needs to go out to my friend and colleague, Veeresh, who kept his word and collected me to drive me the two hours to Montreal to collect the bike. He seemed incredulous at my uncertainty when we set off but I was never great at lying, so why bother trying. Instead, I found myself trying to remember all of the positive things I had read about the little bike via Adventure Rider and the TW200 forum. My 'mid-bike crisis' was either going to be a home run or a downright fail. My consolation being that at least I didn't spend that much on the bike and inevitably, I could probably just as easily resell it in the Eastern Townships where dual sport motorcycles are highly sought after.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ode to MR. T - My 1990 Yamaha TW200!

Photo © Freerepublic.com
I have been going through what can only be described as a "mid-bike crisis" as I am uncertain if another cruiser is really the kind of bike I want. I also find myself shying away from larger displacement engines and have been romanticizing over the days when folks wrenched on their 350cc BSA's and travelled all over Europe instead of polishing their 1800 cc + bikes whilst sipping coffee at Tim Horton's. Not that there is anything wrong with the latter. However, websites like Adventure Rider and Horizons Unlimited have been feeding my interest in motorcycling vacations off the beaten track, so to speak. Simply put, I want mud, not chrome on my engine.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Coming of Age: A Biker is Born!

A Biker is Born!
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Charles' Dickens famous quote from A Tale of Two Cities seems to sum up my relationship with Serenity fairly well. Whilst the Suzuki Intruder proved to be an exciting venture it came at a financial cost that inevitably I find myself rather not think about. Still, for those of you who have followed many of the modifications I have made to the bike over the years, the bike is a testament to its versatility as I made it my own. The temperamental Serenity, a name which in hindsight seems like an oxymoron now, had different ideas to me when it came to actually riding. Nevertheless, the few thousand miles we did manage to accomplish had its moments, albeit brief. That being said, however, I found myself longing for something more this summer. Pavement has started to lose its appeal as the windy dirt roads that seem predominant in the Eastern Townships have been calling out to me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Who's There? India's Iron Rider!

India's Biker Brotherhood
Photo © B Radhey 
I always wanted to own a Harley-Davidson at least once in my lifetime, preferably by the age of 40. But till few years back this remained a distant dream, as Harley-Davidson was not allowed to open shop in India. But the American giant, managed to break the ice with what is now famous as the "Mango Diplomacy". Under an agreement with the Indian government, the United States government lifted a very old trade embargo, which now allowed India to ship mangoes to the U.S.A. in return for allowing Harley to open shop in India. So after a lot of deliberations, I decided to buy my first Harley Davidson, an Iron 883 Sportster in 2013. Although this decision had everything going against it. For one Harley's were costing up to 40% more in India than elsewhere, due to the high duties imposed on them to protect the Indian motorcycle manufacturers. Two, they were expensive to maintain and guzzled the very expensive gasoline in India. But above all the Harley's were considered impractical for Indian conditions due to their lower ground clearance. But when your heart rules over the mind, everything else goes blank.

Sariska National Park on a Royal Enfield

A Visit to Sariska National Park, in Rajasthan, India
By Himanshu Bansal (alias B Radhey) in 2010

Knock, Knock...?
Photo © B Radhey

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Who's There? Percy Hart's Quest to Ride

Photo © Yamaha Motorcycles
Summer of 1978 was when I first saw it. I remember not being able to contain my excitement and thought how beautiful she was. Tried as I might, there was no rest for me that night. As I lay awake dreaming I would one day feel the freedom of riding. I did eventually fall asleep with what I am sure was one of the biggest smiles recorded in history for a twelve year old. The object was a brand new 1978 Yamaha Chappy. It was as Green, as I was with envy for the young man who proudly rode around our neighborhood. I remember asking my mother if we could get one. “Are you out of your mind “ was likely the reply she wanted to shout out, however she softly said, “we cannot afford one, and I am not comfortable with you riding one. When you are an adult and no longer living under my roof, you may do as you wish”, was the reply I remember, however that was so many years ago and mom’s reply may have been a little different.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

At a Glance: 2014 Yamaha Bolt!

The R-Spec Includes Piggy-Back Shock Absorbers!
Photo © Star Motorcycles
Whilst at work this past weekend at Sur 2 Roues I heard the unmistakable sound of a big V-Twin pulling into the school's closed circuit. The rider disembarked and began walking towards us and before long Sophie, a Sur 2 Roues Motorcycle Instructor, greeted the gentleman warmly. Apparently, this was a former student and he had come by specifically to show off his brand new motorcycle that he had just taken possession that Friday from Motos Thibault here in Sherbrooke, Quebec. At a glance you could forgive the unsuspecting eye in thinking that this was a brand new Harley-Davidson Sportster of some variety or another. However, upon closer inspection what I found myself admiring was in fact a brand new 2014 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Who's There? Wolf vs. The Dragon

Here he lies with pistons and crank
Buried up to his ass
In the face of this bank
He challenged the Dragon
To have some fun
As you can see, the Dragon won!

By: Carl Cooper

Thursday, June 6, 2013

DesTination: The Snake

Photo © Wolf Raaen
Six days. That's how many days are left until our baby girl arrives. I find myself with no more nails to nibble on in anticipation of the big day. A day which could be here tomorrow (maybe even right at this very moment as I type this...) or, if our baby girl turns out to be like our second child's birth, delayed by two weeks! Our routine has become rather subtle. I find myself sitting and staring at Jennifer from the corner of my eye as she happily quilts away. She has already made two baby quilts in the last month or so, one for our baby and one for her sister Janice, whose baby is due to arrive later in August. I can't quilt and I find my Jedi powers in willing Jennifer to have the baby now instead of later lacking unfortunately. The anticipation is too much and I can feel myself needing some sweet release. I tuck the boys into bed (early of course, if only to give Jennifer some freedom), ensure that Jennifer has everything that she needs, and start to make my way out of our little apartment here in Montreal. "Don't forget my phone!" Like she has to remind me... "Don't forget my camera!"... thankfully she reminded me. I need to get out of the house, away from the overwhelming anticipation and excitement that seems to follow me everywhere I go these days.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

DesTination: Blazing Trails

Ladakh 2010
Photo © Blazing Trails
Motorcycle Fever. It is contagious only to those without the means of accessing their ride in places where roads are impassable (or better yet, illegal to ride) during these frigid winter months in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As Jack Frost wreaks havoc on us with record breaking snowfalls I find myself feeling trapped inside my skin. A burning sensation emits from every pore on my body and my thoughts seem to be forced in one direction: motorcycles. I whip my head around every now and then towards the direction of the sound of a big twin. It may be a passing motorcycle on television or simply my imagination playing tricks on me. Whatever the case may be I see that old familiar look on my wife's face as she groans and rolls her eyes, already in tune with what is happening to me. "Two more months..." she whispers sympathetically as she knows my mind is still on that one topic that consumes me after any length of time without my Serenity. Two more months before I can bring my bike out of storage and start commuting again with her. Two months too long if you ask me. However, some reprieve is at hand what with upcoming tributes to the God of Two Wheels such as Show Harley (January 2013) and the Montreal Motorcycle Show (February 2013). However, are motorcycle shows really enough? Many friends have started their road trips already by transporting their bikes state side. In other cases they have began planning their road trips as far away as September 2013. It got me thinking about one little jewel that may interest many of you!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Holy Spandex Batman!

Foregoing any preconceptions some may associate with events such as Montreal's 2012 Comic Con, I decided to take the plunge finally and see for myself what the hype was all about! However, that being said, I wasn't willing to do so on my own... at first I tried to wrangle my oldest son to come with me but realistically speaking he wouldn't have had the patience or the courage to face the barrage of crowds and multitude of costumed vigilantes. The line alone to buy just my ticket today took no less than just over an hour! Than it occurred to me; why not try and get some students to come along?! I wrote and teach a course entitled, Consumerism, Leisure and Popular Culture and thought that this event would be a, ahem, 'super', way of introducing new topics in the near future. Comic Con has been gaining momentum in La Belle Province and this year they have featured special guests such as Adam Baldwin from the short lived but excellent television series Firefly, Saul Rubinek from the hit television show Warehouse 13 and Wil Wheaton from shows such as Star Trek The Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory! There are some other surprise names waiting for you below as I managed to capture a few pictures of them!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DesTination: Monday Morning Blues

Making Monday's Bearable...

I work in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, Canada and travel daily to and from work via my '96 Suzuki Intruder 1400 (aka Serenity) as often as possible. It's a round trip of just over 350 kilometers a day...

People often ask "why do you do it?" I can't help but think "how could I not?"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In Loving Memory...

... of
Linda Louise Snow
1956 - 2009

When The Heart  

When the heart 
is cut or cracked or broken 
Do not clutch it 
Let the wound lie open  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

DesTination: Memory Lane

My Grandmother and I
Heading towards the true, north, strong and free I found myself on the road riding towards memory lane. Riding on instinct I followed the 40 East Bound for just over an hour. Doubt began to settle in and just as I was about to pull over for directions I came upon the sign for St. Gabriel De Brandon. It's been over fifteen years since I had last visited and the experience was marred by the fact that I had gotten lost on the way down. It wouldn't have been so bad but I had a friend with me who was less than impressed with my navigational aptitude at the time. I remember feeling dissatisfied with the experience overall as a result. Determined not to make the same mistake this time I set off on my own with no one other than Serenity for company.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

For The Love Of 'Baby Hulk'

Photo © UniqueSnOwFlake
Apparently nothing says "I love you" to your children like creating and painting several murals. For as long as I can remember I have been painting murals from time to time for various folks in and around Planet Earth. From Canada to Ireland and even South Korea, if I was working with children or making my own (with the help of my lovely wife Jennifer of course!) you can bet that a mural would soon follow. Recently my youngest son's day care, Garderie Espace Des Anges was interested in hiring someone to paint some murals for their brand new day care.  With forty-eight spaces still available for anyone interested in sending their children to a great and friendly bilingual daycare, I hoped that creating some interactive murals would help the lovely owners fill these spaces.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Shadow Boxers

A Tale of Two Champions

"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." 

- Rocky Balboa (2006)

My boys, like all five & two year old's are nothing if not impressionable. However, after watching Real Steel (2011) last Autumn with my oldest son I can't deny that the movie got me thinking about how wonderful those Rocky movies still are! In fact, I still get as involved with Rocky's fights as I did the first time I watched them as a kid. Love it or hate it there is something quintessential about boxing in and of itself that seems to pull at our heart strings. Perhaps it is the bare knuckles of it all with only the sheer will power of each opponent keeping them going?! Maybe its the lore of Rocky itself fighting against all the odds and becoming something from nothing?! Whatever the case may be my boys are no exception as they delight in practicing their non-existent skills and train accordingly. Captured by my wife, Jennifer, one night witness the end result of several hours of hard work and training for their future boxing careers!

Namdaemun Market

A Visit to Namdaemun Market - South Korea
Autumn 2005

A Quiet Day at the Market

Bongeunsa Temple

A Visit to Bongeunsa Temple - South Korea
Autumn 2005

Into the Light

Monday, July 2, 2012

Food for the Seoul

I left the Republic of Ireland for the Seoul, South Korea in August 2005. It was literally a spontaenous decision that was precipitated by a need to see some place new. South Korea was a great experience for me personally. I was hired to teach at Kids College, in Insadong, Seoul over the telephone and within two weeks I was on a plane (paid for by the school) heading to Asia. I had never thought about doing this before and saw it as an affordable way to get to this part of the world without the strains of financial insecurity. With a well paying job waiting for me, Jennifer, my soon to be wife, accompanied me we got to share this incredible experience together. Although we inevitably moved to Jeju-Do to teach at Yale Foreign Language Academy we did enjoy our time very much in Seoul and it was amazing how warm and friendly Koreans were towards us. Seoul is definitely worth the trip if you haven't visited!