November 23, 2006

Off the beaten track
Motorcyclist prepares for 20,000-km trek

Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Bob Munden’s backside won’t know what hit it.
On a solo 16-day, 20,000-kilometre motorcycle ride to each of Canada’s most extreme four corners, there are bound to be few bumps in the road.
"Your backside bothers you, but it’s something you get used to," said Munden, who runs a printing shop in Windsor. "I’ve been trying out one of those beaded seats taxi drivers use. "
On June 24 at 6 a.m., Munden will get on his rare 800 cc shaft-driven Honda Pacific Coast motorcycle, and set out on a cross-country odyssey that has been two years in the making.
He’ll start at Point Pelee, Canada’s most southerly point and head to Cape Spear, N.L., Canada’s most easterly point. From there, he’ll shoot across Canada to Dawson City, Yukon, the westernmost point. After that, he’ll take a remote highway to the McKenzie River Delta at the Arctic Ocean and into Inuvik, N.W.T., Canada’s most northerly accessible point.
Just to make things more interesting, he’ll do it in 16 days. It will be the first time anyone has done such a thing.
Munden has spent two years planning the trip.
His bike is equipped with ice, temperature and tire pressure sensors, a GPS system, a timer and an extra fuel cell with Nascar foam inside so gas doesn’t spurt out in a crash.
He has electric clothes for cold weather, detailed printouts of every region’s weather averages, synthetic oil that lasts 15,000 kilometres, alternate routes planned in case of the unexpected and a fresh set of tires waiting for him in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Munden has a reflective construction vest to make him more visible, a whistle and air horn to scare off deer, which he sees as his biggest danger, and light attachments for his helmet.
"It’s hard to hold a flashlight while doing repairs in the dark in the middle of the boreal forest and slapping flies."
Munden’s first concerns are getting out of southern Ontario without hitting traffic — that’s why he’s leaving at 6 a.m. - and making the last midnight ferry from Sydney, N.S. to Port aux Basques, N.L. the day he arrives there.
"Once I’m back on the mainland the rest of the trip is sitting here and watching the scenery go by, until I get to the Dempster Highway," Munden said.
The 756-kilometre gravel highway will take him through extreme wilderness and over the Arctic Circle from Dawson City, Yukon, to Inuvik.
For the entire stretch of that desolate northern highway, Munden said he’ll be lucky if he sees six or eight other souls. Up there, there is one big concern.
"Falling over."
It’s a daunting thought when you’re by yourself in the middle of nowhere.
But he’s prepared. His pants and jacket are actually a suit of armour outfitted with plastic and foam that hardens on impact.
"This ride is my 60th birthday present to myself," said Munden, who has been riding since the age of 15. "I’ve never been to the Arctic on my motorcycle. I’m not 60 yet, but I will be by the end of the ride."
Last year, Munden was the first person to document a ride from Key West, Fla., to Angle Inlet, Minn. That 4,025- kilometre ride from the most southern point to the most northern point in the continuous United States took him 43 hours.
The key to long distance riding, said Munden, is remembering it’s not a race.
The faster you ride, he said, the faster you get tired and the faster you burn gas, which means more stops.
There is also the police to worry about.
"I don’t need to stand on the side of the road talking to an officer of the law for 20 minutes," said Munden.
A slow gas stop for him is six minutes, which includes eating. His diet on this trip will consist of water, Gatorade and energy bars.
To sleep, he’ll pull over to the side of the road. He prefers picnic tables to the ground. There aren’t as many bugs. But there is a downside to a roadside snooze.
"I’ve had problems in the past with people coming up thinking I’m dead."
© The Windsor Star 2006
Off the beaten track
Motorcyclist prepares for 20,000-km trek
Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, June 14, 2006

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