Friday, December 24, 2010

On Holiday!

Today we head off on our annual holiday.  I have a rented a Bach in the very beautiful Mahau Sound, this is part of Marlborough sounds.  A stunning and beautiful area at the top of New Zealand's South Island.
 This is the Bach where we are staying.
and this is the bath on the deck!

Unfortunately, bags , food, boogie boards, 2 x kids, 1 x partner, 2  doz wine, lap tops, ipods, and other assorted stuff dictates that we will not be going on the bike!! Arrgh!! Arrgh!!  

Now don't get me wrong I will thoroughly enjoy the holiday  and spending quality time with my kids and partner, but there is a part of me that is going to go nuts as I see all the bikes on our travels!  We of course have to catch the ferry from Wellington through to Picton (this is a beautiful ferry ride by the way, as we get close to Picton we travel through Queen Charlotte sound),  and there of course are gonna be bikes on the ferry, and couples and individuals that are touring the South Island on a bike.

View Larger Map

Man it is going to drive me nuts!!!!

I have a wee four day road trip planned on the bike when we return from the South Island, so at least I will get some motorcycling done this Holiday's.  The weeks leading up to Christmas have been so busy at work and family commitments that poor old Beth has not done many miles.    I have yet to warn my partner that when  we do finally get out on the bike I think we will do about 3000kms in four days, just to make up for lost time.

This will be me in about 24 hours time.

Still I am looking forward to exploring the top of the South Island,  there are lots of beautiful walks and beaches.  In fact the Bach I have hired sits right on the water and even has a hammock and a bath on the deck over looking the sounds.  A day trip to Nelson, and a few trips to the winery's of around Blenheim are also in order.

I have few good books to read, a 2000 piece jig saw puzzle to do with the kids, and of course the rugby ball.  We cannot go anywhere with out our beloved rugby ball!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Revenge of the Pussys!

In the spirit of Geoff's post,

I thought I will show you the boss of my house.  He answers to Moses, that is when he can be bothered.  He is fourteen now, and is still the most bossy pussy you have ever meet!  But I have had him for a long time in fact longer than any relationship  (God that's embarrassing).

He life revolves moving from the deck to the kitchen and then back to the deck, occasionally he will sit by my feet.  Sometime when he has a moment of weakness he might even jump up onto my lap.  He guards the house with a vengeance.  No other pussy gets within a hundred yards of our house.

He is a rather large pussy who, like his dad, likes his food.

I love my pussy, he has been a great pet, and is very loyal.

So who is next.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Random Pics.

Here are a few random pics that I though I would share, I dont have many old ones yet untill I visit my folks up north. In the mean time these are some from when I owned a boat and a couple of my bikes.  Sailing is something else that I also loved, but the cost became to much. Motobikes in comparasion are cheap.

No..not me! My Daughter on my first bike bike. August 1998

My 955i Daytonna.  A great  sounding bike March 2007.
My lucky hat!! (the fish looked bigger in real life)

Sunset on the back of WINDSWEPT. Rakino Isalnd 2008

Sunrise Chamberlins Bay, looking out at Coromandel Peninsula.2008. It was one of the most spectacular I have ever seen.  The photo does not do it justice.

The BRITTEN, Te Papa. Date weekend with my daugher 2007

WINDSWEPT, under full sail. She was a great boat to sail!

God I loved that hat!
THe kids and I.

Nathan...looking very cool.
   I hope you enjoyed these.  When the oppourtunity presents I will scann and post some old ones.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Help from fellow bloggers needed here.

Now I am thinking of adding another horse to the stable.  I have for some time loved these bikes, but of course owning a Triumph I have been in the closet about it.  If Beth new what I was contemplating I am sure she would be most upset.

  I am still not comitted to getting one, although it is seriously out there at there mo!

So which one is better the Red or Black?

Any help and comments on this issue would be most appreciated.  I am thinking black..........

There is so not gonna be any inheritance left for my kids when I kark it..........

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Brand loyalty

I have often been asked the question "am I brand loyal"?  In other words would I ride a different make of bike or am I loyal only to Triumph.  I ended up having a very interesting conversation with a friend today about this very issue.

First and four most, I don't care what bike you ride, if you are on two wheels, weather it be a scooter, Harley, Honda, Royal Enfield.....I don't care.  The fact that you are on two wheels makes you part of the "Brotherhood...or Sisterhood" as the case may be.  We have something in common, something that is very hard for the non biker to understand.

There is one main reason that I like Triumph.

The Engine.   I fell in love with the triple engine.  The first time I heard it it rocked  my boat.    It continues to rock my boat.  That growl that only a triple makes is very very addictive.  There is simply no other bike maker out there that has capitalized on this.  Although I hear rumours that MV, or could be Aprilla are doing something similar.  In the mean time triumph has cornered the market on this particular issue.  Who ever at Triumph came up with the idea is a genius.

Character,  I have always like the Triumphs because they have character.  Although this reason is not exclusive to Triumph.  There are many bikes out there that I would also consider to have character.  They just don't have three cylinder in them!

I think now a days it is pretty hard to buy a bad bike.  Most producers of bikes offer high quality and performance that not many riders will ever take to there real limit.  But what I will say is that I think Triumph are thinking out side of the square far more than any of the other major bike manufactures.  The release of the Tiger cub, just reinforces this view.  The Rocket 2.3 litre triple, the 675 Daytona, the Street triple, Speed triple, and my favourite, which no other manufacturer has come close to being able to reproduce....the very simple and very cool Bonneville.   These are all fantastic bikes which appeal to a wide market.

On the other hand...........( and please I am not insulting Suzuki owners)  Suzuki has hardly come out with a new or exciting bike for some time.  Yes there has been regular and consistent upgrades on their class leader the GSXR1000, but what else?   This only appeals to a small minority.    The very successful Boulevard series are excellent bikes, but also they have been around for a while.  I read recently that Suzuki's sales in the UK have dropped 50% in the last three years,   Some of this is attributed to the recession but the writer was at pains to point out that they are simply not meeting the market.

 A classic example is the Adventure market.  This is one of the fastest growing markets in biking, normally dominated by BMW ( Thanks to Charlie and Ewen), yet now Triumph have a bike to compete, KTM are in there but where is Suzuki?  Honda has the Trans Alp, but again it is an old bike that has not seen any real innovations fro some time.

Now I am not turning this into a "Bash Suzuki" blog, I think personally most of the Japanese manufactures are missing the boat to some degree.  Where as BMW, Triumph, KTM and Ducati are all coming out with new and exciting models to meet todays markets and  the needs of todays riders.

Am I brand loyal........well I suppose I am..........but that can change!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Any ride is a good ride#2

The day dawned glorious.  My partner had organised a 8km walk through the bush by Bethells beach with the social club at work, my daughter was keen to join.  Nathan looked at me and I looked at him, and neither of us was keen on that particular pursuit.  A ride perhaps was more to our liking.

So they headed off to explore by foot the beauty that is the west coast, we on the other hand decided that doing it on the bike was far more fun, So we headed in that general direction.

We left home bright and early , it was only after eight.  Straight up the motorway and on to SH 16.  Hadn't ridden this for a while.  This well known road amongst bikers in Auckland, is also well liked by the boys in blue.  Not that that would worry me, with Nathan on the back, speed is not the priority, just being on the bike is fun enough.

We stopped at Helinsville for a much needed coffee and then continued around the coast.  This road is a lot of fun on a bike, but it is also very pretty with lovely views of the Kaipara coast.  We stopped again at the look out about 10kms west of Wellsford.

Lying in a ditch across the road to get this pic!

I have been wanting to get some more photos of the bike and to update the picture that is on the blog page.  I ended up lying in a ditch with the camera to get the photo.  I thought it was particular arty of me!

Carrying on to Wellsford we rejoined SHW1 and turned south.  Suddenly the bike is handling weird, I could feel Nathan moving a lot, which is not something he tends to do.  Next minute he is tapping me on the shoulder and wants me  to stop.  We pull over just at the top of Dome Valley.   He has some how managed to kick his foot peg up and had been trying to get it down.  That soughted, we continued on and stopped at McDonald's in Orewa.  My least favourite junk food, still I had a chicken wrap and we carried on.  The temperature was certainly getting up there and every time we stopped I could feel the sweat running down my back.

Kaipara Coast.

We continued down the motorway all the way  past the Bombay hills, turning left onto SH2.   Carried on along for a while then headed through Miranda and Kaiuwa.  Stopped again for a drink and then home along the coast and back into Botany.

So a bit of a figure eight. Didnt actually plan it this way but that doesnt matter .At least we were out and it was bloody good!
Out little trip ended up being about 340 kms.

Man it was good to be out.

View My Saved Places in a larger map

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am Grateful.

Well Christmas is almost upon is again. It seems like I have only just put the tree away, and I am pulling it out again.  It is a crazy time for me at work. Always is this time of year.  So why I have a brief break in the chaos.   I would like to take the time to say a few things which can only be said once a year.

I am grateful for my two terrific kids.  For their honesty, humour, and love.   I am grateful that they continue to teach me things , that they are well balanced, caring, respectful,  and most of all that they are mine.

Taylor and I , Little Bay 1/1/10

I am grateful for my parents, who's undying love shows me the way forward.  Even though they are close to there seventies, they still have a spark and a jest for life, that I only wish to emulate when I get to their age.   My relationship with them is stronger than ever.

I am grateful that I am still healthy.

I am grateful for my partner , who knows all my faults and loves me anyway. Who lets me not only indulge my passions, but shares in it with me. You are a  great step parent to Taylor and Nathan.  This alone is no easy task.   For your understanding and unconditional love I am truly grateful.

I am grateful that I have kept it rubber side up, have been able to ride some great roads, and seen some great places.   I am even more grateful that I have been able to share some of these journeys with you all.  I have learnt to love this place, I call home, more and more.  I am grateful at how lucky I am.

I am grateful to have met some great people along the way, who share my passion.   For those that have taken the time to read my blog and comment, I feel truly honoured to have shared some of my stories and life experiences with you.  To the people who's blogs I follow, thank you, for letting me share in your journeys, triumphs and tragedy's.   My life is richer because you have done so.

So to Terry, Nathan, Taylor, Mum, Dad, Tim & Sandra, Jean & Gary, Geoff James, SonjaM, Lori, Tony, GeorgeF, Andy & Jo, Brady, Jamie & Paulin, Rodney &Sharon, Bandit rider, Avgas, Kiwonabike, Oz, Mark & Anne, John Mc, Tony,  and to anyone I may have missed unintentionally I am grateful for having you along for the journey this year.  I wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas.  I wish for you all a fantastic New Year.  And I hope we travel many more miles together.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you have a white Christmas (Ummm not so sure I should say that by the blogs I read, I don't think snow is that welcome amongst the motorcycling fraternity)

To those in the South , lets crack open a cold one, put another steak on the BBQ, grab the sun block, a hat, maybe even a good book,  and lets soak it all up.......after the ride of course.

All the best everyone.


As I write this, New Zealand is in shock at the death of 29 miners at the Pike River mine on the West Coast. My thoughts are with those family's and their loss.  For five long days the country has waited for news, only for this tragic outcome.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yes officer!

Oh the joys of motorcycle ownership.  It seems the moment you own one you become noticeable to the boys in blue.    Or perhaps I am just the friendly type......  Since I have got back into motorcycling I have been pulled over three times by these lovely fellows.  Some would say that is not very often, but considering that I have owned a car for 5x times longer than a bike, and I have only been pulled over about the same amount it seems some what strange.

Let me remove any doubt from any reader here and now, I am not , nor will I ever be anti police. I believe they do a good job, and I certainly don't envy their position one bit.

The first time I go pulled over I was on my way to work on a Saturday morning.  Riding down the southern motorway at 6.00am,  There was hardly any traffic around and the thought of meeting mister plod didn't really enter my mind.  When I looked into my mirrors I noticed these flashing lights.


I pulled over, and the office who was on a bike pulled up beside me.  This I found strange for starters. He lifted up his helmet and we began to have a friendly chat.  "I have clocked you at 113kms" he said, "any reason for your excess speed?"

No officer, No excuse what so ever.  I was tempted to say "because I didn't see you," but in case he didn't have a sense of humour I decided against it.  "well" he said,  "I need to be seen to be pulling you over, you did weave in and of  traffic a bit, Anyway as it is the week before Christmas, and I always give one free be away each day, today is your lucky day".  "Keep it under 100, and nice bike by the way".  With that he departed.  It was in fact a very pleasant exchange.

The second incident happened on Tamaki drive, and if ever I should of got a ticket that was it.  But I didn't.  Perhaps I have been lucky, or perhaps I just don't come across as an arrogant biker.  I have always admitted my mistakes, and have never tried to talk my way out of it. There is something to be said for admitting your mistakes and accepting your punishment.  While waiting for the first officer to run checks, I did extol the virtues of the 675 Daytona I was on to the second officer, he seemed some what interested.  Anyway after what seemed like an eternity they had a discussion, came back to me and let me off with a warning, but he did say and I quote " If you want to do this shit, take it to the back roads of Whitford".   Well that is handy to know, if I  ever get pulled over out that way all I have to say is officer 49271 said I was allowed,  just not allowed to do it on Tamaki drive!

The third and last time that I have been pulled over was out the back of Miranda.  For those that don't know this area, it fairly rural but consists of some straights with a couple of corners.  I had my partner on the back and we were coming back from down the line.  Being on the straights my speed had inadvertently crept up.  I certainly wasn't trying.  Just bored and riding along.  Next minute a man in blue comes around the corner and flashes his lights.  He does a Uturn and follows me.  I of course pull over.   He greets me with the phrase "Do you have any idea what speed you were doing?'.  No officer I don't sorry.  "well neither do I , but you were well above the limit".  With that he gave me a stern warning and sent me on my way.

The days of sports bikes are over for me.  I can still have fun on the bike I ride with out having to reach license losing speeds.  I suppose I have been lucky, but when ever I have been pulled over I have always admitted my fault and am never rude.  I am afraid that is just my nature.  Perhaps that is why I have not yet had a ticket when riding the bike.  (Touch wood)!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Suspension Upgrade Sprint ST

Now the first thing I am going to say is that I am no expert on these matters.  I can only relate in non technical terms the problems I have had and the issues which concerned me.  Pre load, rebound, damping etc all this terms I dont relate to. 

One of the most disappointing things about my bike has always been the suspension.  I have met and talked to many sprint owners and have never found one that is happy with the suspension on these bikes.  Don't get me wrong, I love the bike , the engine is superb, the ergonomics are great and I have always loved the sound and the look of it.  It is a great bike for touring and having a fang.

Perhaps they are built for more smoother roads than what we get here in En zed, but the bike certainly does not like our bumpy roads.  This has always annoyed me immensely, and the simple fact that the bike does not handle well, does nothing for your confidence as a rider.

To start with, the back of the bike is very saggy, by saying that I mean the moment you sit on it the side stand would hit the ground, if my partner also sat on it, and with luggage, it would be impossible to get the side stand up. No amount of adjustment  ( and there is very little anyway) would solve this problem.   At nearly 30000 kms I was of the opinion that the rear shock was well past its used by date anyway.  I suppose you could say that it is soft, yet when you go over a decent pot hole, the jarring and impact is well and truly felt.

After a 1000km weekend, you felt as if your body, not the bike was absorbing all the  bumps, and I often found I had a sore back and butt, not from the riding position of the bike, but from the continual bumping up and down,  To put a technical term on it , bump compliance was crap!

This issue alone, causes issues with the front, the weight on the back forces the front end up, and no amount of adjustment with the front forks can solve this problem.   This creates a very light front end, one up it was tolerable,  two up it almost becomes un rideable.  Perhaps that seems a bit harsh, but that is honestly how I felt.

I would often suffer from massive under steer at the front,  would not hold my lines correctly, and be constantly correcting while cornering.  The light front end was perhaps my biggest concern.  I also noticed that the front tyre would not wear evenly.   Almost getting out of shape.

I had brought the bike with the intention of keeping it for some time, (as you do),  so with that in mind I made the decision to improve the suspension.   I think most bikes regardless of what you buy can do with an upgrade anyway.   I read with great disappointment that the new GT Sprint suspension has had very poor wright ups.  It is annoying that after spending $22000 odd on a brand new bike, you then have to spend a further couple of thousand just to get a decent ride.

This was not gonna be cheap, but all things considered I organised to get the bike to CKT in New Plymouth, where a new rear shock was to be installed, and the front forks re valved etc.  Basically I wanted them to weave there magic.

So on Saturday I arrived in New Plymouth, My friend John picked Nathan and I  up, and took us to get the bike.   Strangely enough the moment I saw it, it looked taller!  I had a look quick look at the adjustments, and the unit itself at the rear.   By this stage of the proceedings, I was itching to get on it and take it for a ride.

Immediately I noticed two things different, the first is that I felt taller some how, a bit perched up, secondly,  how nice, firm and planted the bike felt just sitting on it.  No bounch up and down stuff.  It was quite definitely stiffer.  There was  a huge and I mean huge, noticeable, difference to how the bike felt previous.

With my son with me, Robert suggested winding on a bit of pre load, and with that the bike stiffened more, when Nathan got on the bike never moved, as in the down ward motion.

Once on the road the first thing that grabs your attention, is how easily the bike handles bump. It seems to absorb them, it makes for a very smooth ride.    As it was raining I took it slow on the way to Taupo, just getting use to the different feel the bike now had.   The front end feels so much more planted and seems to hold lines far better( Perhaps this is me).  It is has far more feel than prev ious.  After an hour I stopped and wound on another click of pre load at the back.  These felt even better. 

The great thing about these Ohlins is the ease of use, preload and rebound are so easily accessible and one simple turn alters something.  Also the shock can be removed and serviced, where as the old shock once worn would need replacing.

The Pre load adjustment

Once back in Auckland I continued experimenting with altering the settings to what I felt best.  I have wound the front forks down 1 turn, and 1 click of preload seems to suit me just fine for one up,  I will experiment with the preload at the back on the next weekend away with my partner.

So was it worth it, In a word ABSOLUTELY!  The bike is a completely different bike to ride, the feel, feedback, firmness and bump compliance is just brilliant.  It has made what was a good bike, into a superb bike to ride.  For a layman like me it is hard to explain (but I hope I have) just what a extraordinary difference this has made.  John said to me in New Pymouth, "The best way to get a new bike, is to improve the suspension in the old one".  Never a truer word said!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Man, A Boy and a Bike.

I needed to go to New Plymouth to pick up my bike, I was getting some work done to it (Blog to follow).  I decided that it would be a good time for me and Nathan to have a bit of a road trip, kind of father son weekend away.  Nathan is always up for a ride, although I was a bit worried about the distant.The longest we had done was two hours, and lots of small rides.  A couple hours here and there is one thing,  a whole weekend on the bike is a bit more adventurous.  Still he seemed some what keen, and before I had had a chance to worry about it I had booked tickets, and organised some where to stay on Saturday night.

Us on the plane.

My partner droped us off at the airport Saturday morning.  The plane trip as far as Nathan was concerned was just as big as an adventure than the bike ride that was to follow.  Actually I havedone a fair bit of travel myself yet I still get excited to get on a plane!

We arrived in New Plymouth around 11, to a cloudy day that was deteriorating.  Drizzle with rain forecast.  My friend John picked us up and dropped us off to get the bike.  After a coffee and a yak, it was now raining and as we suited up I realised I had left Nathan's jacket linings behind, not a particular auspicious start. We left and headed up the coast. I was at this stage still not sure what route I would take, it depended on weather and how Nathan handled the ride.  I had checked the forecast before I left and was sure the further north and east we travelled the better the weather would get.  This was indeed the case, as we turned inland and as we hit the Awakino gorge the roads were in fact dry and the annoying drizzle finally ceased.

View My Saved Places in a larger map

Before this though at Mt Messenger I stopped and put a rather large sweat shirt under Nathans jacket, it was not overly cold but the last thing I wanted was him getting cold. This seemed to do the trick, and in his words he was very toastie!
Dads improvisation of jacket lining! ( Atop MT Messenger)

With the bad weather and Nathan on the back,  I had been riding very tentatively, a little to much.  As the weather cleared,  I was able to relax and began to enjoy the ride.   Doing my best to keep my speed down.  Still I was hearing murmurs of delight coming from over my shoulder every time we went around a decent corner.   If you ever get to ask Nathan what he likes best about being on the bike , his answer will allways be ......corners!

We arrived in Pio Pio , and as yet I had heard no complaints which I considered amazing as it was almost three and we hadn't had lunch!    There is a nice cafe in Pio Pio, called the Fat Pigeon . We had a very enjoyable lunch and chatted about all sort of things that Nathan wanted to talk about.  I was also very much enjoying my time on the bike and with him.  One on one time I have learn't, is to be treasured.
The food was yumy!

After leaving lunch we carried on to 8 mile junction turning right and headed towards Taumaruni, this was not to be out destination.  John had recommended turning left about 5kms up the road onto Pukerimu road, which takes you out the back and eventually hooks you up with Sh 30 taking you through Bennydale and eventually Taupo.   I have always enjoyed this road, there is hardly any traffic on it, and given the right circumstances can be a real blast.  We took it leisurely  stopping at Whakamaru for Ice cream.

We got in to Taupo about 5.30.
Lake Taupo.

First order of the night was to slide into the hot pools at the motel. What a very relaxing end to what had been a great day.  From there we headed in to town to enjoy one of Nathans favourites dishes.......curry! And it needs to be hot, no butter chicken for this boy.  Strange but true, there is nothing  Nathan loves more than a hot spicy curry.

After watching a movie on TV we both fell asleep on the bed, it was 9.30 ( I am turning into a Nana)

Perhaps it was the early night but the next morning we found ourselves at McDonald's at 7.30 watching the All Blacks Vs Scotland game and munching on a Bacon and Egg McMuffin.

Nathan at the power station

We headed home up SHW 1, turned off to go back towards Te Kuiti,we stopped and had a look at the Whakamaru power station.   From there we headed towards Te Awamutu, stopping at yet another power station , Waipapa. Hadn't ridden this road in a while and it had begun to drizzle so had to take it very easy as the roads were wet and greasy.  This is where I had to bluff about how much knowledge I actually had about Hydro Power stations.!!

We stopped at Te Awamutu for a coffee, I think Nathan was getting a bit worn out at this stage, so I decided to take the direct route home. I was very proud of the little fella, this was the first time that he had complained that he had a sore butt!!

We got back into Auckland after lunch, and had a very quiet afternoon.

For those that are contemplating taking there son or daughter for a decent road trip, here are a few tips that I have learnt.

1) Ride with confidence, but at a safe speed. My attempt to ride very slow was unnatural, and I found myself being to tentative and riding poorly. Once I had settled into a consistant groove, I felt better and rode better.

2) Try to pick a good weekend weather wise. It helps. Saying that don't be be put off by the odd shower.

3) Get some good gear for them, easier said than done I know. But if the child is warm and comfortable, and you know they have the right gear on, you feel better and more confident.

4) Stop often.  Just because you can go for 2-3hours with out a stop doesn't mean the little one can.

5) Make it special, eat ice cream!  Talk.  Enjoy yourself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Man On the Hill.

There was once a old man who lived at the top of a hill overlooking a village, he was considered the wisest man around, in fact many people went to him for advice.  He was always gracious and discerning in any advice he gave.

One particular morning a couple of young boys from the town were discussing this, they were determined to find a way to catch him out, and to prove that he was not in fact all that wise.

After much discussion they hatched a plan, they decided that they would go and knock on his door, and seek his advice .  The plan was to get a live bird, hold it behind there backs.  They would would then knock on his door and ask him, that since he was the wisest man around,  was the bird they were holding behind there backs alive or dead.  If he said it was dead they would present the living bird, if he said it was alive they would twist its neck, killing it and then present it to him.  They considered it a full proof plan, and were in no doubt they were gonna catch him out!

So a bird was duly caught, and they prcedded up to the mans house and knocked on his door.

The man answered.

"you are the wisest man in town" said one of the young boys, "can you tell me then if the bird I am holding behind my back is alive or dead?"

The old man, looked at them with a gracious set of eyes, that had seen more than he would ever like to tell.  He thought for just a moment be fore he replied.......

"That my dear boys is entirely in your hands".

With that he closed the door and continued on with his day.   The boys left, knowing full well that they had been truly beaten.

I heard this story many years ago and have never forgotten it.  Sometimes life can deal you with a crap hand, but how you play it is entirely up to you.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Zealand Simply the Best.

I love this country.

Yes we have our share of economic and social problems, what country doesn't?   Yes it pisses down some times.  And yes if you look hard enough you will find plenty wrong with it.

But for me I love this country.....

Since I got into biking, my love for this country and its people has grown immensely. Perhaps in my travels I have discovered the soul of this country, something I had not found sitting  at home in Auckland.

I have travelled overseas a lot, not extensively, but I have seen enough to know a good thing when I find it.  There are some great and beautiful countries in this world, steeped in history,  and well established.  By comparison New Zealand is a relatively young country.

SO why do I say all this?

New Zealanders are the most friendly and welcoming people in the world.   No matter where you are from, kiwis will welcome you into there homes and there hearts.  No questions asked. I have met many great people through motorbiking and various web sites I follow.  Whenever I have made contact I have always been welcome.  Not only that, as I have travelled around the country I have met some interesting and fascinating people, and had great laughs from people I did not even know.   There always seems to be a spare spud, and steak , and there is always enough beer!

From a motorcycling point of view we have some of the best roads in the world to ride. New Zealand is a motorcycling paradise.   I live in suburban Auckland, NZ"s biggest city, yet just ten minutes ride from my house I am out on the coast, enjoying great twist and turns.  Just bliss.

Yes , you know what I am gonna say next.  There are not many countries in the world that are as beautiful as NZ. There are a few but not many.  No words will describe it, you need to see it for yourself.  Pure and simple.   Photos at times do not do it justice.  That feeling you get as you ride through a forest, over a hill to see a majestic coastline laid out in before of leaves me breathless.  No Kiwi lives more than 150kms for the ocean, in fact 80% of the population is within minutes of a beach.  Kiwis can't fly, but we do love our water.
Waiheke Island.

New Zealanders are pretty accepting of 'Imports", we are a multi culture society, ( as are most countries) yet we all live in relative harmony.  This comment needs to be put in to context with what  goes on in other parts of the world.  No racial killings or bombing, no fractions waring for control.  In general NZ is a safe country,  although the media at time will try anything to persuade us other wise.

Nothing can eat you! Unlike our Aussie cousins across the ditch (Don;t worry I love Aussies) No crocodiles, snakes, spiders that than kill you in 2 minutes, Big white shark attacks, ( Very very very rare in our waters).

When you live here it is easier to be a knocker, to critise and complain, yet we live in one of the best country's, some times we just have to remind our selves of this.  Of course there is no place like home, and I am the sort of guy that the cup is always half full. But I still think you would be hard pressed to beat this country.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Finally a long weekend!

God I was over this week, it had been a prick of a week, and the prospect of a long weekend and fine weather beckoned. My partner, still busy studying for accountancy exams, encouraged me to disappear for the weekend so as not to be any more annoying than I all ready am.

Saturday morning rolled around and I set about packing my bag, and readying the bike.  I had of course had no idea where I was actually going to go.  I had a friend in Feilding that I had not seen for about ten years, so I thought that would be a good start.  The more I thought about it the better idea it seemed as it would give me the Sunday to explore around the Wairarapa, something I had been wanting to do for some time.

So 8.00am Saturday I took off, hoping to  beat as much of the long weekend traffic as possible. To be fair it wasn't too bad. I chose to run down SH1 before turning off towards Otorohanga then Te Kuiti, where I stopped at Boscos Cafe.  A delightful cafe that I would recommend to any one travelling through.

In front of the mountain.

I turned off at 8 mile junction towards Taumarunui.  I love this piece of road. Perhaps it is because every time I have ridden it the weather has been great. The condition of the road is good (although there are few sunken bits and pot hole just out of town). I continued south and decided to take National Park through Ohakune-a road that I had not ridden, but what a blast.

At this point I should mention, the men in blue were supposed to be everywhere, according to the ad campaign anyway.  But to this point I had not seen any.  It is a beautiful ride through here as many other bikers will admit to. The mountain on a fine day is spectacular.

I rejoined SHW1 at Waiouru and stopped briefly for a drink.  I got chatting to a guy on a TL1000 who by chance was also heading to Feilding. So he tagged in behind me, as I had the radar detector, and we all know how the boys in blue love SHW1. We turned off just after Taihape and took 54 through to Feilding. My travelling companion departed down a side road before we got there, but it had been nice to have some company, albeit briefly.

I arrived at my mate Rodney's just after 3, and discovered that his house is just over the road from Manfield raceway, and what would you know there was a bike track day going on.  So we had a natter then wandered over to have a look at the bikes-another first for me as I had never been to Manfield before.

A great evening out and a great carvery at the Rangitike Club, and I was buggered . So off to bed. Still had no idea where I was going to go on Sunday, but you soon realise on a bike these things have a way of sorting themselves out.

Got up early Sunday morning and we headed down to Palmerston North to have a look at Rodney's business,  "Streetwise coffee" on Rangitike Street.  And what great coffee it is too.  I highly recommend a stop here if passing through, you won't be disappointed.  And I am not just saying that because my mate owns it!

I said my goodbyes and headed towards Woodville. I had decided I would try to explore some of the beautiful coast, I certainly don't get the opportunity to come down this way often so I wanted to make the most of it.
The church at Makuri,  I saw this, a school, and about three houses!

I turned south at Woodville passing the famous TUI brewery at Mangatainoka, then turned inland at Pahiatua. I was really out on back country roads now, and it seemed I had the whole countryside to myself. For a whole hour I never saw another car or person. I stopped in Makuri and took a few photos, and listened to the sound of native birds. I was thoroughly enjoying myself, and the isolation only seemed to add to my enjoyment.  The road condition deteriorates the further towards the coast you go, and the storms of recent months had certainly taken a toll on the roads.

I stopped at Pongaroa and met a couple of fellows on Harleys. They were from Masterton and seemed somewhat surprised to discover I was from Auckland.  They did say they don't seem to get 'My type" down here very often!  I am not exactly sure what my type is.....but I digress.

The worlds largest place name. ( don't ask me to pronounce it)!

They recommended the Porangahau Pub as my next stop. They were headed there so I could meet them for lunch. Seemed like a good idea. Had a great ride there and passed the worlds longest place name.  It is amazing what little surprises this country throws up at you when you get off the beaten track.

Arriving at Porangahau pub, I was greeted by the smiling lads on their Harleys. I joined them for lunch and we had a great yak. It seems I was an okay lad because I was on a Triumph.  I had a great beef burger then headed off to look at the beach. What a fantastic place this is, hardly anyone around with a fantastic beach that went for miles.
The Harley boys.
A genuine local, and a nice fella to boot!
At the beach, five minutes drive from the pub.  Spectacular.

I continued on, leaving the Harley boys to themselves and headed towards Waipukurau where I refuelled and decided to take HWY 50 into Napier for the night. Another great ride, that is well worth taking, just to get off SH2. There are a couple of long straights but some great sweeping corners and bends. I arrived in Napier just after five, and even though I had only done 350kms for the day it felt like a lot more.

I bought a few beers and some food from the supermarket and settled in for a relaxing night.   It had been a great day and I had accomplished some of what I had wanted to do and see, very satisfying indeed.

For some unknown reason the person who was in the room before me had set the alarm for 6.15am and when it went off it gave me a hell of a shock. Still I was up now so decided to head home.  I had the Napier -Taupo road all to myself and barrelled along at a good brisk pace. The temperature dropped the closer I got to Taupo and I encountered some heavy fog, which slowed me down and made me wish I had brought my winter gloves. It is moments like these that I am glad I went to the bother of installing heated hand grips on the bike. Even then the tips of my fingers were still cold by the time I arrived in Taupo.

I had a look at the new bypass, then continued up SHW1, turning off towards Te Kuiti.  After Te Kuiti I contined on the same route I had taken on my journey south.  I wanted to get back to Auckland in the early afternoon, as I had a few things that needed to be done.  I arrived just after one.

I had a great weekend, rode on roads I had not done before, met some great people, and saw some sights that I had never seen before. A great weekend on the bike, the weather was brilliant the whole weekend. What more could a man ask for!

The Wairarapa is a great place to explore if you haven't seen much of it before.  But take your time there is a lot to take in, but it is worth it.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Emotion Vs Logick.

By nature I am not a particular emotional person. Most issues in my life I take with a grain of salt, and simply let slide.  But a situation happened over 12 months ago which left an indelible mark on my life.

The company I own and run was in need of a trainee.  Over the years I have been through many. To many perhaps. And for every good one I found I tended to go through about ten. So anyway, I placed an add on the  net, and after shifting through over 200 applicants, I invited a few for a interview. I eventually settled on a young man who was well presented, and seemed to have plenty of mechanical nous.  I duly employed him.

Alex started a few weeks later, and buy all accounts I was very happy with his progress, he was punctual, tidy, and had a conscience, a bonus in this day and age.

He was living with his partner , and even though he was only 21  they had there first baby (Connor) in the August of that year.

In an attempt to save money he traded his car and brought a motorbike. I spoke to him about this, and even though I ride myself, I tried to emphasize that Auckland's peak hour traffic was no place to learn to ride. He informed me that he knew how to ride and not to worry.  ( I will come back to this comment later)
I was so impressed with Alex I had given him a key. He was often at work before me and would open up the factory and of course put the jug on.

During this period the company had suffered a big down turn in work, partly because of the recession and partly because of circumstances with in the industry. In an attempt to keep all my staff employed, the staff were taking a day off each week when the work was particular light. On the Friday I gave Alex the day off , but told him not to be late Monday as we did in fact have a bit coming in/

I arrived at work on Monday morning , unusually for Alex he was not there, the rest of the staff arrived and still no Alex, not even a phone call. This was very much out of character.  My truck driver came in , and casually mentioned there had  been a motorbike accident on the northern motorway. We all looked at each other, but continued on with out day. Trying not to think the worse.  By 9.00 I was worried so phoned his home  number, no answer.  This I found unusual as having a new borne I expected that at least his partner would be home.

At 9.30 am, I got a phone call from the police to inform me that Alex had been killed on his motorbike that morning on his way to work.  I will not go into details about the rest of the day, but suffice to say that only having a staff of six, we were all deeply shocked and it was a very emotional week.

Due to other  factors in my life, and the shock of Alex's death I sold my bike a few weeks later, deciding that  it was the best thing to do.  Alex's death had hit a nerve with me, I I found myself carrying some guilt because of it. Selling the bike was an attempt to make myself feel better.

After some months, and time for reflection I realised a few things. His comment that he  knew how to ride, was in fact very misleading, and gave me the impression that he was a good rider. In hindsight he knew how to ride a bike, but he did not have enough experience or rider training to KNOW how to ride his bike.  There is a big difference.

I often found myself wishing I had done more to help him, but I realised I had in fact done a lot.  I could not hold myself responsible for his actions. Attempting to beat myself up over something that in reality I had no control over was a pointless and waste of time.

Six months later I brought  myself the Sprint and have continued to ride, well aware of the risks, now more than ever, but I still ride anyway.  Which brings me to the title of my post.  Motorbiking is not logical, it is emotional. Something happens to me when I am on the bike. The worlds worries fade away, the stress of day to day stuff disappears and I am free.

And yes every time I put my leg over her I think what could happen, and because of that I am aware of my own mortality.  I am probably a better and safer rider because of it.

I will not forget Alex, and his death taught me many things, a great deal of them about myself.  But in hindsight I should not of let his death stop me doing what I love.

To the non rider, riding  a bike is not logical, to the motorcyclist it is emotional.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A kiwi in America.

I recently returned from the states after attending my partners sisters wedding.  The last time I had been there was 15 years ago.

Our trip entailed a few days in LA, then off to Vegas for a couple of nights, back to LA then  a road trip up to Lake Tahoe.  (Unfortunately all of it in a car!)

                                 Discussing the Kiwi accent with this lovely waitress from Vegas!

Being a biker of course I would like to offer some observations of what I saw,

1) I was completely amazed at the lack of safety gear that most motorcyclist wear. A back protector and a helmet seemed to be the norm, until you hit Nevada then the helmet also disappears.

2) A lack of bikes, considering the population and the affordability of bikes. On any given day in NZ if the weather is fine you can expect to pass 50- 100 riders.  I saw about  about 20 on our trip to Lake Tahoe but most were Harley riders of some group and this was in Nevada, none were wearing helmets.

3)  In LA Particular the word "chicken strip" could only be described as an understatement.  Talking to a guy in a shop he said most of the young guys were in to straight line speed and not the corners. The strips were an inch wide on either side of a GSXR I saw.  Not that I care about that sought of thing but it was certainly obvious that some of the bikes I saw did not go around corners much.
It made me wonder how they would handle the twists and bumps of New Zealand roads.

4) Off topic... The food is  a bit crap, seems to be lacking in flavour and very sweet , but it is cheap! Bloody cheap compared to NZ,  Four of us could eat out for $35 ,  two of us would struggle to do that here.  In fact America is very cheap in general,  certainly came back here wondering why everything is so expensive over here.

                             The President and I, he seemed a nice guy! A bit......wooden!

All is not lost though! I meet  guy  called Steve who was the best man at the wedding , he actually rode there on his Vstrom, and I spent many a hour talking to him about bikes and the good roads to ride.   I have since realised that what I had seen, although true is certainly not a reflection on the biking community in general and since I have been following many blogs on here I have learnt a lot more and am certainly eager to return to visit more of the country and see.

Overall I had a great time, enjoyed meeting new people and seeing some  great places, ( lake Tahoe is very beautiful, very similar to Queenstown)

I am looking forward to returning and and perhaps getting a few days on a bike.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kids and Motorbikes.

In this ever increasing nanny state we live in, I have found that motorbiking and kids go together.  I am sure the politically correct will beg to differ.

My son has struggled with his learning for some years, I would hate to think how much money has been spent trying to get him the proper help.  In the end when he was finally diagnosed the kid was so far behind at school, that we have had a long slog  playing catch up.  It is fair to say that he has improved quite considerably.  But we still have a way to go.

He is actually quit a bright kid, it was just trouble with his eyes that has caused all the delay, but he amazes me with the stuff he does know.

Coming from a split marriage, the hardest thing I have had to do was trying to connect with my children, I had no problem with my daughter but I had real issues trying to feel connected with my son.  They are in my care 5 days a fortnight, and it can be a busy few days!

I found that when I got into motorcycling,  My son showed a devoted interest also.  Something that I had not seen in him before.   In fact he became quite passionate about my bikes and all things biking.   He was only six at the time and I felt he was to young to take for rides.  The time he was 8 I decided he was tall enough to take riding.

At first we just went for small trips down to the mall, maybe into town.  On our first decent trip out to Kiuawa proved to be a challenge.  A bit of education was required on what a pillion passenger does and doesn't do!    He had this great idea that every time we went around a corner he would flop to that side, then repeat on the next.   Certainly unsettled the bike.

After a few miles and a couple of lessons he has become the perfect pillion. In fact I forget he is there sometimes, and I need to reach back and  touch his leg to reassure myself!

Our first weekend away together on the bike was awesome.    I had all ready taken my daughter to Wellington for the weekend previously (we  Flew), and asked Nathan what he wanted to do,  fly some where or go on the bike.    There was no hesitation when he said he wanted to go riding!!
                                          Nathan with the bike.

We had a terrific weekend in Rotorua, and I felt that we had started to connect again.  We did all the great things a father and son should!   We have done many miles since.  Yes I realize there is a danger when we are on the bike, I have certainly been given grief from certain persons about the risks.

But for me introducing my son to the joys of motorcycling has helped our relationship immensely.  Sharing a common interest has brought us closer together.  He will even sit a watch Moto Gp with me!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review Shark S 900 Full face Helmet.

I Have now for some required a new helmet.

I have always previously had Shoei and Arai helmets. They are of course excellent helmets. Although depending on model can be a bit expensive.  Like most motorcyclist I tend to have a loyalty to my present brand

My present Arai has seen better days, even though it is only 4 years old, it is well used, the padding is coming away and I needed to get a new visor as the old one was pretty scratched.

So I decided I would start looking for a new one.  I decided I would be open minded about the process, and not make a predetermined idea of what to get.  Be prepared to try different ones etc, and to step out of what I am comfortable with.

I went through the normal process of a couple of Arais, but the price was excessive, and although they are good helmets I think you are paying a bit of a premium for the name, same can be said for Shoei. Although the helmets I tried did not seem to fit well, and exposed my chin.   As a general rule I fit some where between a medium and a larger, some medium helmets feel to small and some larger ones seem to big.  Getting the right fit is important as we well know.

It was during one of these trips of looking for helmets I cam across the Shark range, I do not know much about these, but a couple of friends have them and are very pleased with them.

I tried on the S900 model, and took it instant like to it.

It was comfortable fitted perfectly and was impressed with the features that it possessed. The flip down inside visor that is built in , takes away the need for a different tint visor.  If the sun comes out you simply flick the switch located at the top left of the helmet and you instantly have a tinted visor.

                                               Notice the internal tinted screen

They are plenty of ventilation holes that are easily accessible.  It has excellent graphics.  It weighs on average 1490 grams.  Which is on par to my present helmet.

The padding removes easily  for washing if required.

The replacement of the visor if required, is as easy as it gets. In fact I would struggle to find a better system

It is a lot quieter than my present Arai, but after about 120km/per hour it does increase markedly.

This helmet cost me $429 NZ dollars, which I consider excellent value for money.

Overall I am very impressed with the helmet , it has features which many helmets twice the price do not have . So I give it 8/10.  I would have no hesitation in recommending this helmet to other riders. And for only a couple of hundred dollars dear than the cheaper ones on the market , I would say it is well worth the extra cost.

Here are the specs.

Shark S 900 Full Face Motorcycle Street Helmet

» Shell made from injected thermoplastic resin
» Multi-element, internal shock-absorber with differentiated density
» Airflow directed by integrated ducts
» External anti-UV lacquer finish
» Dual-treated (anti-scratch/anti-fog) "Total Vision" 2.2mm visor
» Sun shield, anti-scratch and UV protection
» Slide Lock quick-release visor fastening system
» Adjustable lower air intakes
» Rear air extractors Venturi effect
» Air turbulence system, by integrated spoiler
» Comfort padding morphometric optimized removable and washable
» Hydrostatic and bacteriophobic treated interiors
» Double D-Ring chin strap
» 5 year manufacturer's warranty
» Meets or exceeds ECE 22-05 and DOT standards.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Doing the Dishes.

For some strange and peculiar reason, our dish washer stopped working.

In it self not a major.  

Although I am not keen on dishes!

I am part time dad, I only have my kids 5 days a fortnight.  So it was convenient that when the dish washer broke down, the kids were around.  You see this is the reason I had kids, to make my life easier as I get older.  Safe to say though, hasn't really worked out that way.  

So last night I said to Nathan to come and dry the dishes.

And the strangest thing happened...........

We talked, and talked during the entire session.  Now don't get me wrong, I do talk to my kids a lot, I take them for rides on the bike, walks, sit in there rooms and yak.  But it was so good to do something different.

If your kids are like mine it is a constant battle to keep them off the PlayStation, computers, and all the other things they have to keep themselves entertained.  Some times days will pass and I realise I haven't really talked to my kids.  I have been with them, but have I really spent time with them.

The world we live in is a very frantic place, so many things to make our lives easier, yet we seem busier more than ever.  My kids seem to be growing up very fast all of a sudden.  Any  time that I get to spend with them on a one on one basis,  I realise I must treasure. The time will come when I wont be the coolest dad in the world, when my jokes wont be funny, when they don't wont to hang out with me any more.
 When my motorbike is not cool.

Sometimes you just need to stop.  Enjoy the moment, because sooner rather than later it will be to late and they will have moved on.   Years ago I was told the best thing you can spend on your kids is time,  it rings truer now than every before.

So for you parents on here with kids, enjoy the time, and make the time.  Because soon there will be no more time left.