On Any Wednesday (Or Tuesday, or Thursday, or...)
The mostly mid-week travelogue of Max Burns

The overview
The stats
The reviews
The awards
Excerpts from the book

On Any Wednesday (Or Tuesday, or Thursday, or...) is a collection of five motorcycle adventures. Each story catches Max—sometimes alone, sometimes with friends—chasing the trails and sparsely-travelled backroads of northeastern Ontario and northwestern Québec, typically pursued by a fast-approaching winter. In his notoriously satirical and witty manner, Max uses the motorcycle not just as a vehicle to get from point A to point somewhere, but also as a vehicle to explore life and a few of its absurdities. The reader is invited along to share the sweet scent of a shower of autumn leaves, the teasing taste of delectable apple pie, the haunting silence of a vacated northern lake, the airing of a few selected gripes, and a few belly laughs—basically all the smells, tastes, sights, joy, and sometimes pain, of Max's world as seen from the seat of a motorcycle. On Any Wednesday makes for a fun—and occasionally provocative—read, one that will appeal to both armchair adventurers and active participants alike. top

Adventures with Neddow

Country & Cottage Water Systems

Unresolved Connections

These are a few of my favourite roads

Around the Bend (again)

On Any Wednesday

The Dock Manual

Cottage Water Systems

The Winged Wheel Patch

The home page

The stats
Title: On Any Wednesday (Or Tuesday, or Thursday, or...)
Subtitle: The mostly mid-week travelogue of Max Burns
ISBN: 0-9730263-0-8
Publisher: Word Dust Press
Suggested retail: $18.69
Technical stuff
: 6x9 paperback (fits nicely into a typical motorcycle tankbag), 128 pages, full colour cover, 67 black-and-white photos placed throughout the book in context with the text, 4 maps (covering 8 pages), various bits of artwork throughout, and two pages of sources to help track down the restaurants and lodgings Max visited.
Where to buy: Motorcycle Mojo Magazine.. top

What Others Are Saying About On Any Wednesday
“[On Any Wednesday] documents travels both on a motorcycle and inside [the author’s] head. Both regions covered are fascinating ... We recommend it.” Cycle Canada

“The book is a lot of fun... Even the bits I disagreed with were usually funny and always well written—typical of Max’s stuff.” Inside Motorcycles

“It’s also a good primer to having fun on a motorcycle tour—one needn’t stick to the trodden path, and Max is one of the best at pointing out why that’s the case. ” CMG Online

“For its wealth of descriptive text, amusing asides, and insights into the good (and bad) roads of central Canada, it’s a valuable resource ...” Upshift

“What’s unusual about this book is that the interesting bits are by no means restricted to the terrain, roads, and stopovers, as is so often the case with tales of traveling by motorcycle... Get a copy for your own library and enjoy.” International Motor Cycle

“Great stuff (although somewhat odd in spots).” Barry Clarke

“Classic Burns with the twists and turns of his lateral thinking.” Don Hewson

"Not only does Max tell us where the great rides are (both in his articles and his books), he can do it with a great turn of a phrase. For example while describing a route near Espanola he writes, 'The pavement is patched and blemished, a pattern repeated in the sky, and again in the fields where a scattering of grasses and wildflowers stitches clumps of green across a tattered cloth of golden brown, the cloth poked and torn by unkempt brush and trees, most of the leaves holding to late-summer green, all of it fighting for space right up to the pavement.' Like Thoreau describing ice bubbles, Max has the ability to see what most of us are blind to and then has the ability to describe it in such clarity that we can not only see it in our mind's eye but we make sure we are more observant on our next ride. It is heartfelt and honest for me to say that my life has been better for knowing and reading Max." Bill Coghill

“I enjoyed the book immensely.” John Harvey

“Quite funny, made nice airport reading when I was traveling.” Ahmed Hassan (Egypt)

“Bloody marvelous! Best read of the year (2002-2003).” Bill Snelling (Isle of Mann), author of Aurora to Ariel, The Motorcycling Exploits of J. Graham Oates top

The Awards
2003 Motorcycle Award of Excellence

The Excerpts

Here’s a couple of excerpts stolen from the pages of On Any Wednesday. The first is taken from the main story, Parallel Thinking, an account of a tour a few friends and I enjoyed in the year 2000.

Espanola has a sizable bridge that spans the Spanish River gorge, the bridge offering a dandy view of the sizable dam which provides power to the sizable paper mill which provides employment to a sizable portion of the town’s population. But the thing that unites this size-small town, the thing that brings its citizens together more than any other aspect of modernity, is the stop lights and stop signs. On a per capita basis, there’s more of these pesky interruptions to progress, right here in Espanola, than anywhere else in the world. At every corner. Approached from any direction. No exceptions. Call the Guiness Book of World Records. So the folks of Espanola obviously have ample time to exchange how-dos and get to know one another. Or strike-up a casual acquaintance with visitors. In fact, it’s quite conceivable two members of opposing sexes (this is Espanola, after all) could meet at a stop sign (or light) coming into town, fall in love at the next, get engaged two stops later, and break-up at the final stop exiting the far side of town. And about that smell in the air? It’s not the mismaligned paper mill, it’s the exhaust fumes from all the stop-and-go traffic. At Barber Street, we head east (right at the second or third or forth lights—I can’t remember), stopping frequently until Barber metamorphoses into Lee Valley Road.

Remember that name for this road exemplifies what finding alternative routes is all about. For a small investment of additional time an alternative route takes you away from the hoards of vehicles that never move at your pace, away from the commerce and billboards, and away from the highways that barge through the land while straightening and flattening and filling everything that dares stand in the way of a surveyor’s sight-line. So an alternative route often shines not from what it is but from what it isn’t—or perhaps the things it avoids. Such as the drone of the TrashCanada. Lee Valley Road shines.

It finds passage through a flatland caught napping between huge outcrops of rock—chunks of solid bedrock popping up here, there, a Precambrian family of randomly-placed mini-mountains that define Lee Valley and at times even intrude onto the valley floor. The road’s pavement is mottled, its course sometimes twisted into long, sweeping curves, yet more often found yawning out between rock outcrops. This road owns no discernable ditches, the surface level with surrounding fields of low, green harvest. There are few buildings and even less traffic, set your own pace, which is surprisingly slow for us, arrested as we are in the sloth of the moment.

The second stolen sample is from The Bit in Between, the brief intro to the stories in the second half of the book.
As winter melts away into spring, each day of sunshine heralds an even better one, a warmer day with less chance of rain—or snow—as north winds tire. So it’s easy to take a pass on iffy weather knowing that things are only going to improve. Tomorrow we’ll go for a ride, I’ve got other things to do today.

Not so in autumn. Every opportunity to ride becomes precious for it could be last chance this year. Conditions that would have me hiding in the comfort of my home in spring find me out riding in the fall. Yet just as winter finally appears to be retaking hold of the land it often loses its grip. Going for that one last ride of the season can be akin to going for that one last kiss—one leads to another leads to another and on and on. But with the thermometer greeting each morning sun with lower and lower sub-zero temperatures surely the opportunities will end. For a ride, that is. So motorcycling in late autumn evolves into a series of day runs, riding whenever the sun shines, and even when it doesn’t, frantically grabbing whatever weather is available.

Sometimes it’s just a ride between storm clouds, a chance to cheat nature, perhaps a ride to Restoule with Jackie, a stolen moment as the two of us chase fall colours along a twisted shoreline road, following favoured old roads, succumbing to the temptation to explore previously-bypassed off-shoots introduced as good gravel only to quickly deteriorate into some ragtag repository for ruts that soon after terminates in swamp. These are rides without destination, the schedule determined only by dropping temperature.