I leveled up!

Exactly 61 days ago I got my M1 license, so today I swung by the Ministry of Transportation with the results of my June motorcycle course to convert my M1 into an M2. I’m now a fully-licensed motorcyclist (although I’ve still got two years of zero alcohol tolerance, but that’s fine by me). That removes a bunch of license restrictions:

  • Cannot ride outside Ontario
  • No passengers
  • Ride only during the day
  • Not allowed on 400-series highways (our “Interstates”)

While the ideal celebration would’ve been to go drive on a Quebecois highway at night with a passenger, that was a bit much, so instead I decided to celebrate by heading over to Quebec after dinner and not come back until after dark. I’ve wanted to play on the twisties in Gatineau Park since I got the bike, especially since it’s basically across the river from home. The cyclists and police were out in full force tonight and there’s always a deer threat over there in the evening, so I took it pretty easy through there, but they’re still fun at around the speed limit. You can see the route I followed here; it was out-and-back, and the “back” leg was at twilight. The far end of the trip, at the north end of the map, is the Champlain Lookout, which is pretty neat at sunset. It was a nice change to be a bit too cool on a ride — I had to stop and close the vents on my jacket, where usually I’m a bit too warm in it. Once you get in the park you feel the temperature drop about five degrees, and then the sun went down!

The little bike held up OK although some of the steeper grades took a bit of work. The most annoying thing about only having the 250 is the size of the throttle movements necessary — coming over the top of some of the hills on corners meant going from nearly wide-open to nearly fully closed so there wasn’t really any comfortable resting point for my wrist. The headlight predating halogen bulbs and the speedometer light being burnt out didn’t help a whole lot either! It’ll definitely be a one-or-two-season bike for me.

I do want to get out on the 416 or 417 sometime soon just to check that restriction off, but freeway speeds are pushing it a bit for that bike. I’ll have to find a quiet time between two exits or something. Passenger can wait until next year at least; this bike’s a bit too small for two-up riding, and Candice will need to have gear, and I’ll need to find a chance to practice a lot with an experienced rider behind me.

One odd bureaucratic thing: Since I passed my M1 exit test at a course instead of at the testing centre, they have to mail the paperwork off to data-entry folks before I can get my plastic license card. Until then, I have my old license as photo ID and a paper temporary license. Where it usually takes 1-2 weeks to get a new license mailed to you, mine will take 8-12 weeks! It’s like the good old days of mail-order!

I need to find some other beginning riders around here to ride with. I also need to remember to bring my camera with me! I’m off next week, and I’m thinking about riding to Belleville via backroads (around 220 km), crashing at my parents’ place overnight, and coming back the next day. Might be too much too soon, though. Maybe I’ll just do a test run one day of 100km or so to see how it feels, and then a day of 200 km a while later, and if that’s OK then Belleville later. (Today was about 50 km.)

2 responses to “I leveled up!”

  1. I did the Champlain Lookout ride on a bicycle a few times. I’d suggest it’s a bit more challenging that way. Especially the time a group of us stopped at the top of a hill for a rest and to wait for the rest of the group to catch up, and as I stood there beside my bike not putting any weight on it, the back tire suddenly exploded.

    Another time coming down at twilight, I was surprised by a beaver dragging a shrub across the road.

    At one time I was dating a girl whose apartment overlooked the Queensway, and we heard a whine of motorcycles, and she said “oh, it must be 10pm”. Sure enough, I looked at my watch, and it was exactly 10pm. And there was a contingent of crotch rockets racing up the Queensway at about 150km/hr, and a few minutes later they came back the opposite direction. Evidently they do this every night, or nearly so.

  2. You’d probably out-accelerate me on some of the steeper hills there. Silly little 250.

    Candice was once surprised by a beaver walking by a bus stop on Heron near Walkley. The beaver was pretty surprised too.

    I wonder if 10 pm is the police shift change?