Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Ride and some bling.....I mean Farkle!

So the weekend finally rolled around, it had indeed been a long one, especially for the people of Christchurch.   Every kiwi seemed to offer support and the country is pulling together.  It is hard being in Auckland, and really wanting to help.  I ended up offering my house for accommodation to Christchurch residents wanted to escape, nothing has come it so far but it felt good to do something.  The kids donated their pocket money, and together we all went to the bank to put it in.  If you feel you wish to donate  please click on the link...Donate, It all helps.  Sadly I have heard that one  of the sales reps of a client in Christchurch was killed.

The R.A.T. (Riders Association of Triumph) raid which was planned for Christchurch this weekend was cancelled.  The Wellington RATS organised a ride around the East Cape, to make up for it. It was decided that The Auckland lot would join them in Whakatane.  I decided to tag along as I had no plans for the weekend.  In the end it was only Dave, his wife Lynn and myself.

We had a great ride down through Morrinsville, Cambridge, covering every back road in the Waikato region.. Eventually we ended up in Tirau, which is where we stopped for lunch.  It was decided to head towards Rotorua, then south towards Taupo, before turning off and going through Murapara.  The road to Murapara is pretty straight, and I wondered what I had done, but all is not lost as soon after Murapapa. it becomes a great motorcycling road, with fast sweeping corners and good seal.  A lot of fun.

Passing over the dam at Matahina, It is impressive, and takes you completely by surprise.  We arrived at our destination just after four.  The Welly RATS didn't arrive till after six, but it was good to meet them and we all went out for dinner and a few drinks.  It was a rather subdued night, which is most unusual with the Rat's, but the Christchurch quake has taken its toll on people.

In the morning I left and head towards home, coming pass the Rotorua lakes and a few back roads back to Auckland. 

I fitted a rear hugger to the bike on Friday night, as I was eager to protect the new shock that had been put in last November.  Besides I felt inspired by Steel Cupcake, so had no choice.   I don't think mine looks as flash as Lori's......, but then I had done a 700km weekend with it so it might be a bit grubby!

It had been good to great a way, feel the wind in my face, and to count my blessings.  Biking sure has a way of relaxing you and letting the stress fade away.   Some times it sounded like the triple engine was just singing!  Just had the bike over a year and have completed  18000 Km's.  I don't commute on it so most of that mileage is all touring.  The bike now has 32000kms on the speedo.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Dark Day. Updated 6.30am wedensday.

Not a good day today.

For those in the northern hemisphere, you may not no that Christchurch has been hit with another earthquake.  Centred just 5kms down, under the city , registering 6.3  One of New Zealand's most beautiful city's lies in ruins,  As I wright this the death toll stands at 65, and is expected to climb.  For a little country this will hit us hard.  And I feel very emotional about it .  I have friends down there that I can not get hold of, power, phones are all down.

The last earthquake on the 4th September was bigger but deeper, and because it happened at four thirty in the morning we were lucky there was no loss of life, sadly to days one happened at lunch time.  The cost of the last quake was estimated at 7 billion, the cost of this one is peoples lives...

You are probably well aware how much I love this country, and I am just gutted.  We are a resourceful bunch us kiwis, we will get through it....but man I feel for the people down there tonight.  I am not normally prone to emotional out bursts, but today is an exception.

Update:  Wednesday 6.30am

Thank you every one for you thoughts and prayers.  I have still not heard from my friends.  Just have to wait,  The Aussies search and rescue teams have arrived, so grateful to you fellas. The Americans are also sending help. once again thanks. Christchurch resembles something from a war movie.  It is raining also.  It is hard when it is so close to home, they are pulling survivors out still from the collapsed buildings.  The Triumph Rat Raid was in CH CH this weekend, I was going to go, but had to pull out at last minute.  I believe it will be cancelled.  CH CH airport also still closed except to emergency aircraft. Hospitals in Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington and other cities have been receiving patients. This is very big for a little country.  There are some amazing stories of survival coming out, but also of tragedy.  Nine month old Jaden was killed when a TV fell on him during the quake.  Just gut wrenching for me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Weekend that was.

This weekend just gone I had my kids.   I pick them up on a Wednesday night and they go back to their mothers on the Sunday night.  This weekend was a bit different for a couple of reasons.

First Taylor decided she wanted to go for a ride on the bike.  She has never been that keen to go riding with me, and I have certainly never pushed her.  Her mother has done enough to scare her into all the possible worse case things that can happen.

Anyway this weekend she wanted a ride.  So she got suited up and we headed off to Clevedon, Maratai and the Pine Harbour Marina for some lunch.  Incidentally Pine harbour is the nicest marina in Auckland, has a great cafe, and also a pub (The Jolly mm wonder why I like it).  Looks out onto the harbour and all the moored boats.  It is a beautiful place.

I took it slow, and when we got to the Marina for lunch Taylor asked me why I was riding like a Nana? Some times you just can't win!    Anyway we left and headed back home.    It is only about 15kms, but we encounter some lovely bends.  One in particular, banks around on it self as it climbs up the hill.  We stopped at the round about just before it and I warned Taylor that it was a good corner and the bike will be leaning a bit.  Well to cut a long story short, we ended up doing the corner three times, she loved it.  As soon as we got home she was on Face book telling her friends how great is is to go round corners on a bike.  Oh Boy..what have I started.  Thankfully her mother does not use face book.

The second thing which we did which was great , was the Weetbix Triathlon for kids.  Nathan wasn't interested, but Taylor had entered.  So at 6.00am Sunday morning we were up and heading into mission bay on the Auckland water front.  It was a very well organised event with over three thousand kids taking part and that was just the Auckland Central venue.  Taylor did brilliantly and completed the 200mtre swim, 8km bike ride and 1.2km run is just over 35 minutes....go girl!  It was a hot day and a long morning , but well worth it.  Valerie Adams was there giving out the medals to all the finishes.  If you do not know of her she is an Olympic Gold medallist in the shot put.  Very approachable, friendly and giving of her time.
Exiting the swim

The Run

Valerie Adams


McDonald's for lunch, and  an afternoon nap for Dad...before we went to the park to play rugby.

Doing a 800kms day on the bike seems easy in comparasion...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Advanced Rider Training.....Why?

To attain a motorcycle license in NZ, you first have to complete a basic handling course.  This entails about three hours of rider instruction on the basics of riding a bike.  Breaking, gear changing , ride around a few cones, and presto you have a BHC.    You then take this to the testing station, answering 20 road code questions, and presto you are legal to ride on NZ roads.  After a further six months you sit another test with a tester who will either pass or fail you, if you pass you move onto a Restricted license, a few months later you eligible to sit your full test. 

This was how I got my license.  I personally think the first part, especially, is woefully inadequate to prepare riders for the dangers of our roads, yet this is all that is required.  Alex who worked for me was at this stage of his license, when he was killed on his way to work.  New Zealnd has a shocking motorbike accident rate.  Last year on NZ roads there were 356 deaths, of which 56 were motorcyclists.

The full extent of my rider training is as above, everything else I have learnt ,I have learnt from other riders, by the mistakes I have made, and by reading a few books.

I have been encouraged of late by Geoff James and his desire to complete an Advanced rider instructor course, and this has made me painfully aware how little real training I have ever undertaking.  During my visit to him on Saturday we briefly discussed a left hand cornering technique, his view so much different to mine, and once again I was made aware of how little I really know about riding a bike.

With this all playing heavily on my mind I have finally got myself organised and booked some one on one training with a a highly recommended instructor.  I don't think I have been as nervous about something bike related since I first sat my license.   I mentioned to a friend who does not ride a bike, what I intended doing.  Why he asks? you ride thousand of miles a year.  I tried to explain to him , how much more is involved to riding than just hoping on a bike and going.  I am not sure he got it....

So on February 28th I will undertake my very first advanced rider training. I will let you all know how I get on.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

3 seconds....

It was a beautiful day when me and a couple of mates decided to tackle the Coro loop. For those not familiar with the Coro loop, it is a loop of road a few hundred kms long, which takes you from Thames, Coromandel, Whitiangi and back to Thames.  This roughly is the loop.  It is motorcycling heaven with continual sweeping corners, tight bends and incredible also has become a grave yard for far to many riders.

I had been back into riding for a bout 10 months and was still struggling with with getting to grips with the whole biking thing.  I was riding my new 675 Daytona, it is a superb bike, it has always been one of the easiest bikes I have every ridden, especially when it comes to throwing  it around corners.

On this particular day I was riding with a mate on a 1098, another on a GSXR1000 , and another on a fire blade.  You could say that I was probably underpowered!

On the ride north from Thames to Coromandel I was leading, and I was impressed by how I was riding, the two big jap bikes were not keeping up, only the 1098 was hanging on to my tail.  I was though, in no doubt riding at the edge of my ability.  And as local blogger from here will testify, this is one road you do not want to get it wrong, if you do, you end up on the rocks, and in the firth of Thames.

Once in Coromandel and refuelled we headed over the hill towards Whitianga, here the road turns into some very fast sweeping bends as well as some short but quick pieces of straight roads.  These roads played into the bigger bikes hands and all three whipped past me at well over lost license speeds.

It was about now that I felt an enormous amount of pressure to keep up. The bigger bikes were pulling away from me and I did not want to get mocked when I finally got into Whitianga.

Entering a average to tight left hander, I was pushing hard to keep up with the other bikes, I was travelling far to quick, and before I realised it I was on the wrong side of the road, it took all my efforts of concentration and focus to ad void running off the road completely.  Finally after what seemed an eternity I gathered some form of control and got back onto my side of the road, moments later, probably no more than 3 seconds, a four x four towing a trailer passed me  coming the other way.  It was then I realised how incredible close I had come to having a  head that would of no doubt claimed my life.

A few moments later I pulled over and sat on on the side of the road, the need to regather my thoughts was uppermost in my mind.  I realised then that what a complete and utter idiot I had been, trying to impress my mates had nearly claimed my life.  The unwritten law to be quick and keep up had over ridden common sense.  I had been riding on a adrenalin high, and it was almost enough to kill me..

A few months later Alex from work was killed while riding his bike to work....

I took a break from riding for a few months, but the passion always remained.  Perhaps I grew up, perhaps I  decided I would rather be a plodder than a dead biker,  perhaps I realised that I was missing some great scenery in an attempt to get some where quick,   Perhaps I became aware of my own mortality.....

Just three seconds from leaving my children fatherless, three seconds from my parents burying their son, and three seconds from leaving my partner devasted....all because I was trying to prove something.

I have no need or desire any more to prove anything to any one on a bike.  But I shall not forget those three seconds.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coromandel for lunch!

With the weather for cast for the weekend looking dodgy since Monday, I was in two minds as to  weather to plan a weekend away on the bike, or stay at home.    

Having met Geoff for the first time last week, and not having had much of an opportunity to talk , I decided that if the weather was any good, a day trip or overnight to Coromandel would be an excellent idea.  From my house it is no more than a 2 1/2 to 3 hour ride.

I  sent Geoff a text on Friday, and asked if he would be around.  He replied in the affirmative, although did mention that the weather was going to be crap, how unusual, summer in NZ!  Still I got up Saturday morning and looked out the window, all was good as far as I could see, it was overcast , but there was no sign of rain.  I texted Geoff , who replied that it was raining and windy in Coro. I was all ready packed, and suited up so decided to go anyway, I don't tend to let a bit of rain stand in my way.

I left Auckland and headed out past Kawakawa Bay, Kaiaua, and into Thames.  This very scenic route takes you down the coast as you ride along towards Kaiaua you can see the Coromandle peninsula on your left.  As yet I did not encounter any rain.  A brief stop at the "pink shop" in Kaiaua for a coffee and I continued on.  Into Thames and then up SHW 25 , a beautiful, scenic, twisty and delightful piece of road, that takes you up the western side of the rangers, and  inland to Coromandel.  Still no rain though.

You have just got to love these roads.

Don't get it wrong though, if you do the Firth of Thames can be chilly!

I arrived at Geoff's place just before lunch and was greeted by Geoff's big smile and the smell of freshly home made bread.  Man this motorcycling life can be hard some times!   After meeting Geoff's lovely wife we settled into a coffee on the deck where we chatted as if we were long lost friends.  Covering topics from bikes, blogger's, roads to ride, trips we had done, family, world fiances,  and just about everything in between.  Some where along the way we had lunch, and Geoff's expertise at blogging is only matched by his bread making capabilities.  Just brilliant.

We jumped in the car and we spent half an hour or so driving around some of the beautiful spots and places that Coro has to offer.    What a piece of paradise this place is.  I have been here many times before and have holidayed here may times, but there is nothing like a local showing you around......  Still no rain though.

Finally about four I took my leave.  I suited up and headed back the way I had come arriving home just before seven...... Still no rain though.  

I had a fantastic day, and a great ride.  Spending decent time with Geoff was a lot of fun.  His passion for life, love of his wife, enthusiasm for bikes, great sense of humour and welcoming spirit, is what life is all about. He may have originally come from from England, but he is a  Kiwi through and through!!!!!  And isn't that one of the great joys of motorcycling, meeting people with a common interest. 

And you know never rained all day!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Classic Bike Weekend, Pukekohe.

I headed off to Pukekohe on Sunday to catch a bit of the classic bike racing being held in Pukekohe.  So with three kids in toe, a pile of sunblock, camera,and several waterbottles we headed off.  It was an overcast and humid day, with the tempertures in the high 20's.

I was suprised as to how busy it was, and you have got to love the sound and smell of those old bikes racing around the track.  There was a great feeling  at the track, and the kids seemed to keep themselves busy, doing what , I am not sure!

It was a great privilage to finally meet Geoff James,  and I throughly enjoyed the short time we chatted and admired the bikes.  Geoff has been a great joy to read and his blogs are full of wisdom, humour,  and good ol'e common sense.  As always Geoffs enthusiasm for bikes is contagious.   I am sure Geoff will post a great blog about it, so I am just going to post a few pics.  I will say how amazed I was at some of the excellent restored bikes, and the old classics that were racing.  I truly didn't relise New Zealand had such a thriving classic bike industry.

I had a great day out, enjoyed the racing, (gotta love those side cars) had a good wander around and throughly enjoyed looking at all the old bikes, and there were some real classics.

The kids even enjoyed themselves, they also seemed some what fascinated by the side cars.  My daughter did mention that it would be fun to hang off the side like that, and that her and I should give it a go.......don't think I will get that one past her mother some how!