Archive for the 'motorcycles' Tag  

New Curvature site

November 17th, 2016

Filed under: Computers and Technology , Software

Tags: ,

Several years after creating Curvature –my program that analyzes road-geometry and builds maps of twisty roads– it now has a dedicated site of its own:

roadcurvature.com

The new site is written to help non-techies understand how to use the curvature files with step-by-step instructions and a lot less jargon than in my original post about the program.

I also took this as an opportunity to learn how to do vector graphics in Inkscape and design myself a new logo — with significant design help from Alison.

Further north and farther east — an exploration of Nova Scotia

September 11th, 2013

Filed under: Life and Everything Else

Tags: , , , , ,

This entry was original published as a Ride Report on the Adventure Rider (ADVrider) forums. The only changes are reformatting to flow as a single article.

Prologue

I’m continually thankful that I get to live in one of the more scenic corners of the planet. Central Vermont boasts numerous twisty roads that tie together charming villages over rolling farmland and steep mountainsides. While my back-yard riding options are nothing to take for granted, it was traveling by motorcycle that attracted me to riding in the first place. I have the travel-bug and long to explore exotic places. Reading the fabulous trip reports at ADVrider has only fueled a greater hunger to step out of my day-to-day environment and explore new places. Since the Rocky Mountains are too far to fit into my vacation schedule this summer, I settled on maritime Canada (and Nova Scotia in particular) as a suitable destination from my two-week end-of-summer trip. As an inlander, the sea-coast provides a novel and ever changing landscape to feast my eyes upon and the population density seems about right to allow me to get a bit of wilderness fix while never being too far from the next town. I also wanted to try my hand at locating camping spots on deserted beaches and former logging cuts as a way to get away from the RV crowd at public campgrounds. While I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on the ground, zooming around in Google Earth seemed to indicate many likely-suitable spots in Canada and Maine where no one would notice or mind a tent for the night.

My best guess at a planned route:

(The actual route can be seen below at the end of this post)

While the vacation itself is certainly the goal, at least 25% of the fun is thinking about and preparing for the adventure. In the weeks leading-up to the trip I took care of various maintenance on the bike, changing the oil and tires as well as adding a top-case and a few other bits and bobs. This trip also gave me an excuse to refresh my camp stove and a few other pieces of gear I haven’t needed in a while. One of the things I thought I’d try out was this brand new super-hydrophobic-and-oleophobic coating called “NeverWet”. After watching their YouTube videos I thought, “this would be perfect to keep water/mud off my boots/riding-pants”. I’ll come back to this later, but the moral of the story: don’t. Preparations began in earnest a week out and by the night before I had the house clean, the bike packed, and was ready to go.

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curvature.py — find the most twisty-turny roads around

December 5th, 2012

Filed under: Computers and Technology , Software

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Update November, 2016: New dedicated Curvature site — roadcurvature.com

Update October, 2013: Google Earth KML files generated by curvature.py are now available covering the entire world.

In the process of taking up motorcycling this summer I also gained an additional hobby: scouring maps and travel guides to find the roads that would be most fun to ride. While I’ve had great times on dirt roads through farmland and wide open highways, there just isn’t anything that compares to the thrill of leaning through the corners on a winding road.

While I’ve had some good successes in locating roads by map (such as Tracy Road), one of the shortcomings of a map is the tight curves you can really lean into tend to be below the resolution for many maps. Atlases and electronic maps like Google Earth allow you to zoom in, but then there is the problem of finding the gems in the sea of data. What I realized I needed was a way to highlight just the most curvy roads so that I would know where to explore next.
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Vermont to Michigan on a motorcycle

July 13th, 2012

Filed under: Life and Everything Else

Tags: ,

In 2005 I took a 3-week trip around Turkey with my parents and brother. Mid-way through this fabulous trip we met the affable Roland Pfitzenmaier, a German man touring the middle east on a Triumph motorcycle. While I am someone who usually travels with a full load of gear — bicycles, kayaks, and all the rest — the minimalism of Roland’s trek was intriguing. This summer my father was kind enough to lend me the use of his motorcycle (a 1993 BMW R100R) and I figured that there was no time like the present to try a long-distance motorcycle tour. Now, I’m well aware that for serious iron butts a 2,000 mile round-trip isn’t all that far — but for someone who is just getting into riding and has only done day-trips, four straight days on the road each way would be a significant journey.

My family has a small cabin on a lake in northern Michigan where I every summer growing up. Since moving to Vermont 14 years ago my attendance has slipped somewhat as the trip lengthened to a driving time of 15-17 mind-numbing hours along the flats of the New York Throughway and various mid-western highways. That said, I still try to make it to the lake at least once every few years. Since I took the full month of July off from work I figured I’d make the trip via motorcycle this time and learn if this sort of travel was for me.

To keep things interesting I planned a route out that would avoid expressways as much as possible and give me a chance to see the landscape of central Ontario — a region I haven’t seen before.

Total distance: 1077
Total moving time: 23 hours, 17 minutes
Average speed: 46 mph


View Larger Map
Key: blue line – planned route, red line – actual route

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