Kitchener, Canada - April 1, 2003

Chapter 2 - Snow in April

Last week I made all my final preparations for the trip. I got my last Twinrix (Hepatitis A & B) vaccination and finished packing all my stuff and furniture. First, with the help of my friend Clara, I moved most of my furniture to my aunt and uncle's place in Kitchener. Originally, Clara had actually intended of keeping part of my furniture while I'd be away, but this didn't work out, so we moved everything to Kitchener instead. I didn't think it would be so much work, specially because of my sofa, which appears to weight a ton. Next time, I'm hiring professionals to move, because it's too stressful. The next day, it was time for me to move the rest of my stuff (again to my aunt and uncle's place) with most of it packed up neatly in boxes upon boxes.
All the gear is spread out on the floor. It looks worse than it really is. After riding the bike, I did change a few things however.
Too many boxes in fact. I did this move myself and then had my aunt help me out with unloading. Then I had to return the rented van to Toronto before 4pm and I barely managed to arrive on time. I was pretty stressed out by end of the day, though when I arrived to my almost empty apartment, it was weird to see so much empty space.

During last week I also managed to prepare the bike, though it took much longer than anticipated. First, I put the battery back in and changed the oil and oil filter. I used the filter I bought from Bombardier for less than half the price for a BMW filter. They look the same. Changing the oil on the F650GS is a lot of work, because the side panels need to be removed to access the oil reservoir. It takes me at least an hour to do an oil and filter change. I also mounted the crashbars and bash plates under the engine. This was way too much work! It looked easy on paper, but took me about 4 hours to do, mostly because it was so difficult to mount the bash plates. What's worse is that it looks like I have to remove one pash plate each time I change the oil! I might consider drilling a hole into the plates just under the sump plug to facilitate the work.

Finally, when I had everything installed, I started the engine. Nothing. It cranked and cranked and the engine wouldn't start. I tried several times with no avail. If there is something that can go wrong at the worst of times, this was it. By this time it was already 4pm on a Saturday, the day before my departure and I had no clue what could be wrong. I suspected the battery, so began taking apart the panels to reach it. I noticed that I had stored a few additional spanners under the seat. Maybe this was the problem. I cranked the engine once more and now it started, albeit with a bit of a cough. I figured that the spanners were pinching the fuel line to the seat. Though the cold weather could have been also to blame.

On Sunday the big day arrived. I had set this to be my official departure date. It wasn't snowing, so I was ready to go. However, it was cold and I was afraid I couldn't ride far, because I'm not carrying appropriate winter riding gloves. The bike was loaded up in about 1.5 hours and I realized I had too much stuff and there wasn't a lot of space for me. I would have to rearrange the baggage. I cranked the engine and just like the day before, the engine wouldn't start. This time it couldn't be the fuel line. Maybe it's the cold weather and the combination of 20W50 oil after all. After several attempts, the engine finally started. I said goodbye to my landlady, Claire and went to High Park, which is a small park close to where I live. I chose this park for my officialy looking departure.

A few brave souls, friends of mine, dared to show up and see the fully loaded bike for the first time. This was also the first time I rode the bike like this.
High Park
The bike and me, ready to start the Round the World Trip, from High Park, Toronto.
We rearranged the luggage a bit, so that I had more space on the bike and then took a few pictures. We didn't spend a lot of time as it was really quite cold and so I left around noon towards Milton, Ontario. I was going to visit my friends Donna and Denise.

To exit Toronto, I took the familiar Dundas St. I wanted to avoid the highway, because it was too cold to ride fast and I still needed to get a handle on the bike and the big load. It handled better than I had anticipated and so I got used to it quite rapidly. On my way to Milton I stopped briefly by the
Lake Ontario
A view of Lake Ontario from Mississauga. On the other side are the USA.
lakeshore and became aware that I probably don't need a tripod for my camera. I had never used one and so decided that I would leave this item behind.

I continued to drive on the lakeshore and this road passes the city of Oakville, where it is lined on each side with huge mansions. From there it is just a short hop to Milton, where Donna and Denise live. In the background to the west you can see the Niagara escarpment, where I did a bit of rock climbing a few times with my friend Sean, who now lives in Pittsburgh.

In Milton I had a chance to relax a bit, before the next day. It was very cold in the morning and it snowed a bit, so I thought I couldn't continue to Kitchener, but then the sun came out. I decided to go, even with the cold. At first I drove on highway 401, but left at the second exit, with frozen fingers. The highway was a nightmare, because of the strong wind and cold air. I continued west on another road. I stopped once more after about 20 minutes to warm up my fingers. Apart from the cold weather and strong winds, the ride to my aunt and uncle's place was pretty much uneventful. After all I knew the area.

Today, I wanted to drive straight to Pittsburgh, but then I saw all the snow on the ground and how cold it was. The snow fell during the night and early morning. This is not unusual for Ontario, but we had had some nice weather the week before, that I had almost forgotten how fast it can change around here. So I thought it was a better idea to stay and wait for the next day. The weather forecast predicted a rise in temperature and tomorrow it should be nice all the way to Pittsburgh.

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